LOS ANGELES -- Increasing technical complexity in today's cars prompted J.D. Power and Associates to change the way it scored its 2006 Initial Quality Study.
The changes meant lower scores than last year for many automakers.
More technology means more potential problem areas. And shorter development times for vehicles also contributed to an increase in problems for some vehicles.
Scores are stated in terms of reported problems per 100 vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership.
In the 2006 survey, J.D. Power:
- Asked more questions about new technologies.
- Drilled down in problem areas with more detailed questions.
- Gave owners room to write about their problems.
- Increased the sample size to include three months' worth of customer feedback, instead of two months.
"We're not just pumping up problem counts. It's a more precise measurement," said Joe Ivers, J.D. Power executive director of quality and customer satisfaction. "It doesn't mean vehicle quality has declined. It means we changed the measure."
Unlike Olympic diving, scores are not adjusted for degree of difficulty. So a low-end model with few flaws can score higher than a high-end model with high-tech glitches.
Power also conducted a version of the old study so automakers could track year-over-year progress. Those results are not available to the public.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]